KHALSA NAMAH, by Bakht Mall, a Persian manuscript prepared during 1810-14, is a history of the Sikhs from the time of Guru Nanak (1469-1539) to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Copies of the script, unpublished so far, are preserved in British Library; Royal Asiatic Society, London; Panjab University, Lahore; Khalsa College, Amritsar; and in Dr Ganda Singh`s personal collection at Punjabi University, Paliala. The author came of a Kashmiri Brahman family some of whose members had served at the Mughal court during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahah (1628-58).
One of Bakht Mall\’s ancestors, Lachchht Ram or Lachhman Das, came to Lahore during the reign of Emperor Muhammad Shah (1719-48), shifting soon after to Delhi. Baklu Mall received his education in Persian and Arabic at Delhi and worked for a time as munshi or clerk to Diwan Gariga Ram, a representative of the Sikh government. He also served briefly Bhai Lal Singh, ruler of Kaithal. Upon the occupation of Delhi by the British in 1803, Bakht Mall took up service under them. In 1805, when Lord Lake came to the Punjab in pursuit of the Maratha chief, Jasvant Rao Holkar, Bakht Mall, who was then on the staff of Sir John Malcolm (1769-1833), accompanied his master to Amritsar.
It was during his short stay in the Punjab that he collected information later to write his history of the Sikhs which, as lie himself records, he prepared at the instance of John Malcolm. He states that he had attempted two books on the history of the Siklis, a detailed one and an abridged one. The former, when only half finished, was stolen, and the latter was taken away by John Malcolm. What lie rewrote has come down to us as Khalsa Ndmah. John Malcolm relied upon this work a great deal in the writing of his own Sketch of the Sikhs.
The author`s foreword in Khalsa Ndmah is followed by an account of the Sikh Gurus; war of succession among the sons of Aurahgzib; activities of Wa/ir Khan of Sirhind; the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh; destruction of Sirhind by Siklis; capture of Banda Singh; rise of Ahmad Shall Dunam and his invasions of India; Mu`m u1Mulk (Mtr Mannu); persecution of the Sikhs; the rise of Siklis to power in the Punjab; Maratha excursions into Sikh territories; rise and fall of George Thomas; rise of the British power in India; Holkar`s flight to the Punjab and his truce with Lord Lake; and the affairs of the cis Sutlej Sikh chiefs.
The lives of the Gurus arc narrated in the traditional style, but the author is on a surer historical ground as lie approaches his own time. His account of events in the cis Sutlej region around the turn of the eighteenth century is especially significant. Besides Khalsa Namah, Bakhl Mall wrote some other books as well, among them GulislaniKhayal, BagJiobahar, I.ouis Namali and HdlMv_khtisarIbliddii Firqahi Sikhdii. The lastnamed manuscript, a brief account of the lives of the Gurus, is available in the personal collection of Dr Ganda Singh.
1. Kirpal Singh, A Catalogue of Sanskrit and Persian works. Amritsar , 1962